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The village of family and friends who guided me through childhood — parents who loved me, grandmas and aunties who fed me and uncles who watched out for me — hold a special place in my life story. These are the people my parents leaned on to make sure I had everything I needed to succeed and most of things I wanted to make my little girl dreams come true.
It’s been especially touching to have many of the same people, along with new family members and friends, be a part of my son’s village. Just as they did with me, they loved and nurtured him, and made him feel safe.
A lot has been written on the importance of people coming together to raise successful children; however, we rarely talk about the fact that we continue to need a village throughout our lives. Our village changes as we get older — people die or move away, and we invite new people in, complete with their villages that connect with our own. Much the same way that our childhood village loved and nurtured us to adulthood, our village as grownups loves and nurtures us through adulthood.
In college out-of-state and hours away from my family, I had a village of friends who made sure I had safe, affordable child care, supplies for school, meals and even time to myself just to decompress every once in a while. Those people are now leaders in their communities because they consistently work to help others succeed.
Working odd hours in politics and as a writer requires a village. My adult village has helped me to grow in my career by making sure I didn’t have to worry about my child, taking time to encourage me and support my endeavors, giving me ideas and suggestions to help me grow and letting me know that even when I feel my work is small and inconsequential that it is, and I am, enough.
It takes a village to help us get to our next level. Whether you are a factory worker or an entrepreneur, you cannot get to your next big thing alone. That doesn’t mean you won’t work hard. And it doesn’t mean that people won’t walk away. Villages are ever-evolving. It is what you need in the time you need it.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes it feels like a vital part of what you need is missing, and you can’t do what you need or want to do without it. As a single parent, I had many tear-filled nights when I felt this way. But what I realized is that anything that wasn’t provided in my village, I actually had within myself. I learned that I had so many abilities lying dormant until I needed them. Between my village and myself, I had everything I needed for every next level.
This has helped me trust God more. It’s helped me to grow my faith. It’s helped me to understand that sometimes the miracle is not the person who comes through or the circumstance that comes together in the eleventh hour, but the beautiful recognition that I have the ability to fix the issue or weather the storm.
A good village helps you to see yourself the way God sees you. They help you to confidently pursue your dreams by providing the foundation to raise you into your next level and the best version of yourself.
LaMonique Hamilton Barnes is a reporter and copy editor for The Wilson Times. She blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.